The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay late last month on the November 30 ruling by a California judge that ordered the destruction of genetically modified (GMO) sugar beet stecklings intended to produce seeds for the 2012 crop. This stay will delay the order to destroy the stecklings until February 28, or until further order from the court, whichever occurs first. The court plans to hear arguments early next month before issuing a ruling.
This stay also combines the appeal of the November 30 ruling with the appeal of the original August ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California that vacated the existing deregulation of sugar beets that have been engineered to withstand the weed killer Roundup®. This ruling has threatened the ability of U.S. farmers to plant sugar beets this spring. A three-judge panel from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals now will hear arguments on these appeals.
The stay came at the same time that Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack issued an Open Letter to Stakeholders, calling for compromise and cooperation between those who support the use of GMO crops and those who don't.
IDFA Submitted Comments in December
Also in December, IDFA submitted comments in support of a plan by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that would allow for partial deregulation of GMO beets and the planting of spring and subsequent crops. According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, U.S. sugar production will be cut by 20 percent if farmers aren't allowed to plant the GMO seeds this spring. Some environmental and consumer groups oppose the use of GMO seeds, however, and originally filed the suit in California.
USDA estimates that GMO sugar beets account for 95 percent of all sugar beets being grown in the United States, with beet sugar providing about half of the total U.S. sugar supply. IDFA members that make ice cream, flavored milk and other products using sugar, about 200 companies in total, are greatly affected by low domestic supply levels and high input costs of sugar.
For more information, contact John Kelly, IDFA manager of international affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.